Gates took to the social media site for the second time in as many years to answer a wide range of questions including what he thinks about the controversial NSA security program, and what he really thinks about new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella who was appointed last week.
"Satya is taking a fresh view of where Microsoft is -- strengths and weaknesses," Gates said in the AMA.
"A new person gets to step back and change the focus in some ways. He is off to a great start."
“I make sure we pick ambitious scenarios and that we have a strong architecture to deliver on them,” Gates wrote. “I encourage good work (hopefully).”
Gates also revealed more on Microsoft's new “mobile first, cloud first” mantra, which should see a big change in direction for the company.
“I am excited about how the cloud and new devices can help us communicate and collaborate in new ways,” Gates wrote.
“The OS won’t just be on one device and the information won’t just be files—it will be your history including being able to review memories of things like kids growing up. I was thrilled Satya asked me to pitch in to make sure Microsoft is ambitious with its innovation. Even in Office there is a lot more than can be done.”
The tech-head turned philanthropist also listed “deep learning” as being the 'next big thing' to change computing over the next decade.
“The ultimate is computers that learn. So-called deep learning which started at Microsoft and is now being used by many researchers looks like a real advance that may finally learn," Gates said.
"It has already made a big difference in video and audio recognition—more progress in the last 3 years than ever before.”
Gates also touched on the NSA and government oversight of computer usage:
“This is a complex issue. Privacy will be increasingly important as cameras and GPS sensors are gathering information to try and be helpful. We need to have trust in the way information is protected and gathered. There is a role for the government to try and stop crime and terrorism but it will have to be more open. I do think terrorism with biological or nuclear weapons is something we want to minimize the chance of.”
On balancing business and philanthropy:
Just creating an innovative company is a huge contribution to the world. During my 20’s and 30’s that was all I focused on. Ideally people can start to mix in some philanthropy like Mark Zuckerberg has early in his career. I have enjoyed talking to some of the Valley entrepreneurs about this and I am impressed and how early they are thinking about giving back—much earlier than I did.
On his guilty pleasure:
Owning a plane is a guilty pleasure. Warren Buffett called his the Indefensible. I do get to a lot of places for Foundation work I wouldn’t be able to go to without it.
On how he acts 20 years ago and now:
20 years ago I would stay in the office for days at a time and not think twice about it—so I had energy and naivete on my side. Now hopefully I am a bit more mellow but with a little extra wisdom.
On a design competition to create a better condom:
This is a sensitive topic. The idea was that men don’t like the current design so perhaps something they would be more open to would allow for less HIV transmission. We still haven’t gotten the results. One grantee is using carbon nanotubes to reduce the thickness.
Gates also told Reddit users that his most expensive guilty pleasure purchase was a plane, but that it had proved useful for travel related to work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.